If my dd is super tired, cranky, rubbing her eyes, I just feed her a bottle, and she will fall asleep.
However, if she doesn't seem tired, I will read to her, tell her a story, play pat a cake with her, anything that keeps her on my lap until she can get really calm. Then, I roll her in a blanket, and hold her quietly. Sometimes she fusses and squirms, but then she will fall asleep. Sometimes I sing to her, too. Lately, I have been giving her a pacifier only at sleep/rest times. It really helps her focus and she gets calmer with it. I used to be pretty anti pacifier, but now that she is older, I see they have their place. I only give it to her if I am holding her, also.
If all else fails, I take her into a quiet room and rock her to sleep.
I always bundle her up in a blanket when it is time to sleep. That always sets the mood. I also always hold her at least until she falls asleep.
any story book is good, but "Good Night Moon" for some reason seems to make her especially drowsy. I guess because the pictures get darker. There are many other 'bedtime' books on the shelf, as well. I prefer the books that have pages made out of cardboard, as dd can touch the pictures.