Modify a theme to insert custom widgets?

I am quiet new to WordPress and theming but have been a server admin have some experience programming.
I downloaded a theme I wish to customize, I would like to place a HTML widget on the frontpage so I can easily plug HTML in via the way widgets traditionally do.

My first idea was to simply hook into a certain area with javascript and insert my additions but this doesnt seem to be ideal if I want to learn the wordpress ecosystem.

With a theme, what is the best way to simply add a HTML widget (that I can edit in the dashboard somehwere) to the front page of my custom theme. The wordpress way that is, I believe there are several ‘hack-y’ ways to do this but dont seem like a logical long term solutioin

Many thanks, can provide more details if needed of the theme etc.

Also for modifying exisiting theme CSS/JS is the best way to install a per-page script + style plugin and add/modify from there or is there a more traditional wordpress way

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