I've had Christmas in Fa-la-la land before. There's not much to say for it. In fact, were it not for the enthusiastically advertised department store sales, and the big house on Sunset Boulevard that decorates its rooftop with so many twinkly lights each year that I'm surprised it doesn't have aircraft landing on it, you'd never really know it was Christmas here at all.

You're not even allowed to say "Happy Christmas" in this neck of the woods. As so many different religions converge here, the politically correct thing to say at this time of year is "Happy Holidays", just in case you insult someone who happens to celebrate Hanukkah instead.

Not that this greeting marks the arrival of the festive season anyway because people start wishing each other "Happy Holidays" in October. Masters in all things convenient, the Americans invented the catchphrase to cover all bases starting with Happy Hallowe'en, encompassing Thanksgiving and finishing with New Year.

Of course, there are some concessions to Christmas around town. For those that want a truly schmaltzy affair with more theatrical angels than heaven itself, all you need to do is dial 714 54 GLORY, and buy tickets for what can only be described as a school play on a Hollywood budget in the Crystal Cathedral.

Then there's the Santa to the Stars who delivers his gifts from a red Mercedes with a license plate that reads SANTA. Celebrities are said to queue up to sit on his lap because he brings them good fortune - after Cher asked him for an Oscar one year, she won one for Moonstruck, likewise Jodie Foster and Jessica Tandy. Madonna also tried her luck, but then, as Santa explained, "Saint Nick can't work miracles."

There's always a bash at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel on Christmas day, with a full orchestra, giant tree and a chef's parade. This usually persuades a few celebrities out from their mansions - Joan and Jackie Collins, Zsa Zsa Gabor and even the Regans are said to be regulars each year.

But most celebrities leave town. Bruce and Demi head for their home in Idaho; Julia Roberts escapes to New Mexico; Mel Gibson usually flies home to Oz or to his ranch in Montana (although I happened to spot him looking rather out of place doing his Christmas shopping in one of Beverly Hills' hippest clothes shops yesterday); Gwynneth Paltrow goes home to her family in New York. Only Sharon Stone has stayed in LA for the last two years to deliver food to the homeless.

I rest my case. The place is deserted. The parties are elsewhere. The movie industry shuts down ... and even the tinsel in Tinseltown ceases to sparkle. I'm off.