I think I've figured out how to get my daughter to sleep without much fuss. I'm sure this post will be augumented as I learn further techniques.
First of all you have to prepare properly.
Feed her well and immediately burp her afterwards.
Turn off all the lights except the night light. Play soothing music at a very low volume. No classical, metal, or gangsta rap. It's important not to over stimulate her. I use catchy stuff like Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, or Dido.
Give her a bath or at least a light sponge bath. This signals her that its bed time and it relaxes her. Afterwards change her diaper and put her in sleeping gear.
Lay her down in the middle of the bed underneath her blanket and lay down next to her. Have a pacifier ready. At first she will fight it as she wants to stay up and play some more.
She'll cry then cry some more. Use the pacifier if necessary. Lay next to her, close your eyes and try to get some sleep yourself. Eventually she will emulate you and doze off...